Thursday, November 8, 2012


A.K.A. Pausing for Reflection and Clarity on Thursday

Things are all a jumble in Teeny Tiny Tabby Town.  For the first time in forever every single resident is healthy and just where they are supposed to be physically, but....

We're having some behavior problems.

Readers have long been entertained with Norman's food exploits.  After all, our little old man provides a bit of funny with getting stuck breadstick bags and making off with the family roast.  But his food issues are starting to get serious.  I wouldn't necessarily call him aggressive (yet) but he is, without a doubt, absolutely obsessed.

Norman is not sick.  His recent blood work says that everything is working normally.  His behavior from the beginning has always told me that our boy starved at some point in his life and was responsible for his own survival.  I had hoped that he would relax a bit as time went by and he would realize that he would never go hungry here.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Thieving raids are frequent.  I feel defensive in the kitchen, needing to guard or hide every single thing that is remotely edible.  Norman does not relax, so I cannot either.  When he steals something, he runs off and hides while devouring his spoils with gluttony.  He makes himself sick, vomiting if he eats too quickly (which he always does in these circumstances).  If we close him in another room while we cook or eat, he is beside himself... howling non-stop until we let him out.  If we try to have a snack away from the table, we expect to engage in hand-to-paw combat with him.  He is relentless.

Norm is not starving.  He has a bit of old man boniness, but overall he's in much better shape than when we brought him home in January.  This isn't a normal and casual  "Hey... What are you eating?  Can I have some?"  This is "I want that.  GIVE IT TO ME NOW!!!!"  I'm at my wit's end and could use some practical advice on how to deal with a bad-mannered and potentially dangerously obsessed cat.

I should add that this behavior is escalating.  While he's always been over-interested in what we're eating, it's just over the past couple months that he's reached the level of "serious pest" and only in the past couple weeks that I feel like this is becoming something critically important.  


And Issue #2...

She looks very sweet, she acts very sweet, but...

Our Mother Jefferson is having issues playing nicely outside the foster room.  Inside the front room, she is happy... always purring, looking for affection, snuggling non-stop and never raising a paw in anger (never seen it, even with pushy kittens).  Outside the foster room, she started off beautifully.  Walking up to Charlie and rubbing on his legs.  Walking up to Norman to bump noses and say hello.  Walking up to Simba and expecting to sit down next to him and relax.

Something changed inside Mother Jefferson once her babies were allowed out of the foster room for extended periods of time.  When given the chance, she now charges outside the room looking for danger.  She chases down the other cats, going on the attack and cornering them in a rage.  She puffs up, screams at Simba and Norman, scratches them, and continues to do so until she is dragged off and locked back in the foster room.  I understand the difference... the presence of her babies.  But the only thing I know to do about it is not let her out of the room any longer.  She begs non-stop to come out, but I won't put my cats in danger.

With it only happening twice, my cats are acting differently.  Simba hides upstairs and I have to coax him down.  He isn't sleeping with me on cold nights, which is completely against his norm.  And speaking of a norm, Norman marked his territory last night... my bed.  Sigh.



In the middle of all of this, our human family is going through upheaval.  My husband, a United States military officer, has received a short-notice transfer to Washington DC.  It's only for a year, so the kids and I are not moving.  But he is (and pretty much right now).  Two-thirds of the kids are taking it well.  The third might drive me to drink.  It just doesn't seem like the right time to make any more changes to our family.  Which means...

Someone's Petfinder profile might be going public this weekend.

I'm not making any definite pronouncements, just a warning that I might have to let him go to a calmer environment.  I love every foster that comes through my door as if they are my own and can honestly say that I don't love Clay any more than the rest of them.  It's just always been a different kind of relationship.  As he gets older and more independent, he is not as attached to me as he was a couple weeks ago.  And I can see myself letting him go.  But... notice that I said "might".  I'm just not sure right now (and anytime you're not sure, it's probably safer to err on the side of "no".  Let's face it, there's always another kitten who will need me.  I may or may not be receiving texts on that subject right now.)  

No decisions have been made, other than Baby Jeffersons will be going to adoption hours on Saturday (and I imagine not all of them will be coming home).  I have been asked to be on hand to evaluate adoption applications and hand-pick our babies' new families.  I just hope I feel more settled by then.  

Oh, and did I mention that the kid who would drive me to drink is lobbying to keep yet another one of the Jeffersons?  (And I'd totally keep that one too.  There's something about every single foster that makes me love them in a special way and think that I want to keep them.  But if I kept them all, I'd have no room or time for the next ones who need me even more.)


In the middle of all this, cuteness abounds.  I love my kitties (permanent and foster) and will continue to work through all of these issues to make a better life for all of us.  If you have any advice for how to handle any of these situations, I would love to hear it in the comment section.

I will be taking lots of pictures for an astronomically huge Friday edition to make up for my whining today.  Have a great day everyone!


And "Holy Crap! I Can't Believe I Forgot to Tell You This!!!!!"

Itty, bitty Adams sister Chevelle?  The one who snagged herself a home without ever going on Petfinder?  Well, there's a reason for that.  She was adopted within the family.  Paula's sister (who has an established thing for calicos) couldn't wait to take this sweetheart home with her.

You know what that means, don't you?  Someone we know is a big sister now...

Penelope Jean the Calico Queen has itty bitty Chevelle to push around now ;-)

(I'm not saying she would ever do that.  I just know how the sister thing works in my house.)


  1. I wish I had advice for you.. I don't but I offer you hugs!!

  2. Mother Jefferson just feels the need to protect her babies. Investing in a feliaway plug in for the foster room would be good (available on Amazon and worth every penny). But I would keep her seperate from gen pop despite her begging.

    As for Norman - have they checked his thyroid for cushings syndrome? One of our beagles wasn't diagnosed until she went blind from it (that wasn't even the reason she was diagnosed, she was so uncontrollably hungry that she learned how to open the fridge door after she went blind). I would inquire thouroughly about this and ask your vet about behavioral issues. Despite his protests he needs to understand those boundries (I know, easier said than done).

    I know you want what is best for Clay, and I'll support you whatever you decide.

    And cool that Penny is getting a little sitter.

    1. Thank you for all of your advice. The Jeffersons are visiting the vet this morning for their vaccinations. I'll make sure to ask what Norm's blood work covered when they tested him this fall.

      And as I tell my kids.... There's something about each and every foster that makes me want to keep them. We just need to do the right thing for us and for them. If the right thing all around is keeping them, we'll keep them. ((And it's not as if he's going to have a hard time finding a home!))

  3. Ps - again a feliway plug in where Norman is put while you are cooking might help to calm him down (a room where he can't destroy stuff like the bathroom would be best).

  4. Norman's food issues escalating may have to do with the influx of fosters into the house. ("Oh, no, those strange cats want my FOOOOOD!") That said, another trip to the vet may be in order. Poor boy.

    Regarding Mother Jefferson, keep her in the foster room, and bring her out maybe once a week to see if she's calmed down. In my house, I give fosters a "tryout" in the general population, and if they start to act out, back in the foster room they go for a few days. Yes, it's hard to hear a cat(s) howling and scratching at the foster room door, but I'll not have my own cats terrorized.

    Just my two cents ...

    1. My feelings exactly, rockygrace. That's why she's back in the foster room. Norm and Simba come first... always.

      I'll give her a try again in a few days to see if she's calmed down. It might help after her babies start getting adopted (maybe).

  5. Oh, and something I try to keep in mind is that unlike dogs, cats are not "pack animals". So to expect a bunch of unrelated cats to be best buddies may be ... unrealistic. *ducks*

    This article may be helpful:

    1. Don't I know it! We have two permanent resident cats who merely tolerate each other's presence. All I ask for is no violence (the occasional smack down while waiting for breakfast to be served is, of course, expected)

  6. And the Tigers lost and the Red Wings aren't playing hockey - what else can go wrong?

    Seriously, you have my sympathy - and my admiration and respect for everything you tackle and take care of. Don't forget to take care of yourself, too!

    Feliway (I think) now makes purple "calming collars". They are infused with pheromones and work pretty well on some of the aggressive/crabby cats at the shelter. But it sounds like Mother Jefferson needs to remain separated from gen pop until the babies are adopted, or maybe she should go to Petsmart and get her beautiful self adopted?

    1. She is so different when she escapes the room and her babies stay inside. I really think it's a protection thing. Will try her out alone later today and see how it goes with the other animals (she *was* fine with them before the babies started coming out, so fingers crossed we'll go back to normal)

      Mama will be the last one to leave for Petco, as she still needs to be spayed (on the schedule shortly). Due to the illness factor there, we're not even opening the cat condos for another full week while we kill germs. So the babies will go to adoption hours, but not go into that area and not stay. Those who are not adopted will come home with me. When Petco reopens, we're hoping to send Henry/Tika/Abby right away and then Mama when she's recovered from the spay.

  7. Yeah for Penny & Chevelle!!!

    We have had issues with momma cats here too. It is about the babies and being over protective. Have you considered letting her have some "outside of the room" time while leaving the kittens in? And then switching? It isn't perfect, but a possiblity. Or, since everyone is weaned, get her spayed and see if a spot is available at Petsmart. The one aggressive momma cat we had went back to the shelter asap after biting Ivy and attaching Mozart.

    As for Norman, would giving him a "treat" in another room work? Maybe a small part of a can of food to distract him? Mine have learned to leave me alone but I have had some fosters that get a "time out" during dinner....I feed them in their room and get to eat in peace.

  8. Oh - and sorry for the family chaos too....we are proud of your hubby for his service, but we know the separation must be hard.

    1. Thank you for all of the advice and the support. We'll be fine... done it before, will do it again. The beginning is always a bit crazy and stressful, though.

      I have tried feeding Norm in another room, but he eats so darn fast and always wants more. So it only lasts a few seconds and then he's howling for more (and to get out). We're going to work with some behavior modification tricks this week and see if anything works.

      And yes, I do believe that will be the plan for Mama... free time outside the room without the babies. We'll see how it goes. She isn't naturally crabby or aggressive. I think it's just protecting her babies... who are just fine, but she doesn't know that.

  9. Hugs Kelly! I don't know anything about the behavior issues Norman is going through sorry. I would think that Momma Jefferson is protecting her babies so I would just (as the others suggested) keep her separated.

    As far as releasing the fosters, I think it's just a good thing they are not HUMAN. I used to work in daycare, so I understand the special connection you get with some of them while caring for all of them like your own. You will figure out the right thing to do.

    Sorry that your family life is topsy-turvy right now as well. If you or your husband needs a stopping place (like because of bad weather or whatever) for a bit as you are passing through let me know. We don't have an actual extra room, but in a pinch we could make something work.

    1. The consensus at the vet today was that I'll always have kittens whenever I want them by fostering (and that this group is so adorable that they'll pretty much get adopted right away). That is my thinking too. As much as I love them, I didn't bring them home to be mine. And if you forced me to choose, I probably couldn't pick just one. And if you asked my kids, they would each pick a different one. So... we'll see what happens this weekend.

      Thank you for your kind and generous offer. Should I pack up a certain Henry Washington for the next drive through your state? ;-) Kidding... maybe HE'S the one I'm going to keep.

  10. Replies
    1. Thank you!! Check back in a few days when I'll include it on the blog :)


    Congratulations to Penelope Jean ;)

    1. Awesome!! I think I know what Santa is bringing the boys (along with their new heat pads)

  12. You might try giving Norman a little treat when you start and letting him run off with it. If it is small, he might not cough it up. If you put it in his safe spot, he might be content with that one bit until his real dinner.

    The momma cat stuff is probably just momma cat defensiveness. Try letting her out without her babies and she may well be just like before.